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New strains can reinfect Covid –ve

Even those with anti-bodies not immune to new variants, AIIMS director sounds the alarm; 14,264 coronavirus cases in 24 hours

While Covid-19 cases are steadily rising in Maharashtra and Kerala, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria has sound the alarm, warning that the new Indian strains of infection found could be highly transmissible and dangerous.

He also added that the new variant can even cause re-infections in people who have developed anti-bodies to the virus. After reporting decline in cases in last few months, India has reported close to 87,000 cases of the coronavirus in the last seven days, with the highest addition on Sunday when the country saw 14,264 fresh infections within a span of 24 hours.

Incidentally, the rise in infection has come in the backdrop of identification of new variants in Maharashtra.

India now has all three coronavirus variants that have caused a massive resurgence of cases globally — B.1.1.7, first discovered in the United Kingdom; B.1.351, dominant in South Africa; and P.1, from Brazil. These have a unique collection of mutations, which make them spread more readily or cheat vaccine-immunity, said the experts.

Dr Guelria stated that herd immunity for coronavirus is a “myth” in the country because at least 80 per cent people need to have antibodies for the whole of the population to be protected.

India has been witnessing a rise in the Covid-19 active caseload over the past few days which is pegged at 1,45,634 as on date and now consists of 1.32 per cent of India’s total infections.

“More than 74 per cent of the active cases of the country are in Kerala and Maharashtra. Of late it is seen that there has been a spike in the daily cases in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh also. Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir too are witnessing a surge in daily new cases,” the Ministry said.

In the last four weeks in Kerala, the average weekly cases have fluctuated between a high of 42,000 and a low of 34,800. Similarly, in the last four weeks, the weekly positivity in Kerala has ranged from 13.9 per cent to 8.9 per cent.

In Maharashtra, in the last four weeks, the weekly cases have shown a rising trend and have increased from 18,200 to 21,300; while the weekly positivity has also increased from 4.7 per cent to 8 per cent.

The areas of concern are the Mumbai suburban areas where the weekly cases have risen by 19 per cent. In Nagpur, Amravati, Nashik, Akola and Yavatmal, the weekly cases have increased by 33 per cent, 47 per cent, 23 per cent, 55 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively, the Ministry underscored.

Punjab is rapidly assuming critical dimension in respect of the spread of Covid-19 infection, the Ministry highlighted adding in the last four weeks, the weekly positivity rate in the State has increased from 1.4 per cent to 1.6 per cent, while the weekly cases in the last four weeks have seen a rise from 1300 to 1682.

The Centre has advised all these States to improve the overall testing numbers by focusing on increasing the proportion of RT-PCR tests.

It has asked them to refocus on strict and comprehensive surveillance as well as stringent containment in selected districts and conduct regular monitoring of the mutant strains through testing followed by genome sequencing, as well as monitoring of the emerging cluster of cases, the Ministry stated.

They have also been asked to focus on clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths.

Monday, 22 February 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

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